Review: ‘The Last Eve’

Young Man Kang delivers something very personal and very odd with "The Last Eve," whose three successive stories re-interpret Adam and Eve in bizarre terms. Psychotronic fans will seek this out on DVD, though wider prospects will be curtailed by the final seg's amateur aspects and unintentional humor.

Following several under-the-radar features (“Soap Girl,” “1st Testament: CIA Vengeance”), Korean-born, U.S.-based helmer Young Man Kang delivers something very personal and very odd with “The Last Eve,” whose three successive stories re-interpret Adam and Eve in bizarre terms. Mix of Biblical allegory, Buddhist motifs, martial arts, sci-fi and sexploitation among other elements makes scant sense but does have the virtue of singularity. Psychotronic fans will seek this out on DVD, though wider prospects will be curtailed by the final seg’s amateur aspects and unintentional humor.

Quasi-experimental first seg “Eve’s Secret” has a post-apocalyptic Adam (Bruce Kahn) and Eve (Melanie Jean) wandering about Death Valley, beset by seven fighting demons sent by Lucifer to prevent the human race from procreating. This dialogue-free “Mad Max” meets “El Topo” sequence, with female English voiceover narration, is an enjoyable curiosity, ending on narrative notes that simply bewilder.

“Cain & Abel” finds Adam (Kahn again) now a contemporary Korean gravedigger who’s given up competitive fighting after accidentally killing a foe. He’s forced back into the arena after Cain (Eung Jun Lee) bets possession of sister Eve (Seung Min Kim) in a match, then loses, in the process sacrificing the life of not-ready-for-primetime kick boxer Abel (Chul Jeong). This well-crafted mix of old-school Hong Kong and more recent Westernized “ultimate fighting” pics boasts impressive athletic displays from Khan and his onscreen opponent, Muay Thai champ Anthony.

Finale, Los Angeles-shot “Eve’s Temptation” is a crude morality tale in which Eve (Kelly Hamilton) is seduced away from Adam (Jourdan Lee Khoo) by biker bad-boy Snake (Freddie Milligan), who adds her to his stable of soft-core B-girls. Meanwhile, an approaching meteor crash signals mankind’s end. There are no martial arts here. Bad dialogue plus some understandably awkward perfs make “Snake’s Temptation” seem like a primitive (if mildly racy) antisex Christian cautionary tale.

With different crews operating in different countries, technical continuity is an issue for “Last Eve.” Last seg is the cheesiest in all regards, though all three will look better on the small screen. Overall, visuals are impressive, while the free-ranging soundtrack roams musical genres as unpredictably (or randomly) as the pic does dramatic ones.

The Last Eve

South Korea - U.S.

Production

An ITN Distribution presentation of a YMK Films production. Produced by Young Man Kang, Bruce Khan, Yong Woon Cho, Jun Hyoung Lim, Jong Pil Kim. Executive producers, Seung Jae Choi, Kimmarie Johnson, James Chean, Tomiko Lee. Co-producers, Edwin A. Santos, Aaron Pugliese. Directed by Young Man Kang. Screenplay, Kang, Sung Ryong Moon, Bruce Khan, Tony T.L. Young, Rick Phillips.

Crew

Camera (color, mini-DV-to-DV), Cheol Hun Ham, Sang Jin Han; editors, Ham, Chul Hoon Song, Mark Crutch; music, Crutch, James Hopkins, You Lee Kim, Seung Hoon Baik; production designers, Yong Woon Cho, Tony T.L. Young; costume designer, Dong Kun Rhee; sound, Avi Garg, Ji Sook Yang, Hyang Mi An; martial arts choreography, Ham, Eung Jun Lee; assistant directors, Max Chang, Mi Ju Sun. Reviewed at Another Hole in the Head, San Francisco, June 9, 2006. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Bruce Khan, Melanie Jean, Seung Min Kim, Eung Jun Lee, Chul Jeong, Anthony , Hyoung Ho Hwang, Kelly Hamilton, Jourdan Lee Khoo, Freddie Milligan, Tim Colceri, Paula Labaredas, Tomiko Lee, George Thomas. (English, Korean dialogue)
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